What’s In A Rescue? (Thistle Cavies Newsletter)

Thistle Cavies shared their experiences of so called “rescues” in their January 2010 newsletter. All too often breeders are referred to as ‘uncaring’ and “bad sources” to get guinea pigs from, and there are cases where this is true, what is rarely commented upon is that exactly the same can be said of some “rescues”, which is, of course, even more dangerous because of the  trust that people have in an outfit that professes to be “helping” guinea pigs. See the Reputable Sources page for a guide to finding a guinea pig.

“We recieve many emails about piggies adopted from other Rescues around the whole of the UK. Some are about piggies that turn out to be sick others are about conditions at a Rescue.We have had mails from people concerned that  a Rescue would rehome Rabbits and Guinea Pigs together. Rescues that have boars put to sleep because they were impacted.Rescues that are also breeding. Rescues that are rehoming piggies to live outside in the winter and on sawdust.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At Thistle we are very fussy as to where our piggies are rehomed to, everyone has to comply with our standards. We refuse many people piggies for one reason or another. It is our belief that piggies that come into Rescue should only go to top class homes. Many of these piggies have had a really tough time and the last thing they need is another mediocre home. To address a few of the points in the above paragraph:

Piggies rehomed with Rabbits is just not on, they are separate species and Rabbits can do an awful lot of damage to a piggy and vica versa. Their needs are totally different.No self respecting Rescue would allow this.

To have a boar pts for being impacted is beyond words. This is part and parcel of Rescue work, not every piggy is in perfect health, some cannot be rehomed.Impaction is very easily and speedily dealt with taking only a few seconds a couple or so times a day depending on the piggy, some only need clearing out once or twice a week. I am totally disgusted that any Rescue would do this also that a vet would allow it.

To rehome a piggy from a heated environment to live in a hutch in the garden on sawdust (in winter), again words fail me on this. The piggy has no time to acclimatise itself to the colder conditions. Many have died and some have been ‘lucky’ and ended up with frostbite to their ears and other extremeties.Absolutely no decent Rescue would even consider sawdust/woodshavings as bedding. They have a duty to know the harm it causes.This product is used  for their own convenience and cost, nothing to do with the welfare of the piggies.


Breeding to sell to the public whilst being a Rescue is to shoot yourself in the foot……you may as well keep the pups and just fill up your cages, save other Rescues takeing them in at a later date!!!!!

The five freedoms should be known to everyone in animal welfare.

The need…
.For a suitable environment. ( as large a cage/pen as possible (absolute minimum of 120 x 60cm for two), proper bedding, not sawdust/shavings and a place to hide/rest in.)
.For a suitable diet. (this means a variety of fresh greens x twice daily, good quality hay freely available at all times, fresh water  daily with a suitable pellet/mix).
.To be able to exhibit natural behaviour.(a spacious cage, hay to burrow in, interact with at least one other Guinea Pig and free excercise time)
.To be housed with or apart from other animals if applicable (this means species with species, no mixing of Guineas and Rabbits etc)
.To be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.( daily checks,learning what is normal for a guinea, having a good vet available and acting on the first signs of illness/injury etc)
Any Rescue not familiar with them has not done their homework and are not Rescues,all they are doing is moving animals about.To be a Guinea Pig Rescue takes a lot more than setting up a few cages and sitting back waiting for piggies to come in. You need to know a lot about their health problems, their character, their needs and provide all that as and when needed, no excuses.

There will always be piggies coming in that cannot be rehomed for one reason or another and that will need special care for the rest of their lives. This can be expensive and time consuming and if you cannot give that time, effort and money then you should not be setting yourself up as a Rescue.

In summary, these types of Rescues do little good but do the Guinea Pig a great disservice, putting their care back by decades and ruining all the effort and work put in by the proper Rescues to promote good husbandry for these little mammals.

We can honestly say that all our piggies go to very good homes, yes this can mean piggies sometimes have to stay with us for long periods but rather this than a less than suitable home. We have many pensioner piggies and ill piggies that need daily meds, impactions cleared daily, would we dream of have any pts because of this? Never, we would only ever euthanise a piggy if he/she was suffering in some way and it was in the best interest of the piggy to have this done.

Incidently much of the above also applies to Boarding Facilities, so do satisfy yourselves that all is as it should be before adopting or booking your piggies in for a holiday. If you do have a problem then do give feedback to the Rescue/Boarding Facility. They will not improve without it.”
This first went out in the Thistle Cavies newsletter 2010, many thanks to Wendi for letting us publish it.
Zest was taken to Thistle cavies with burns on her face from being treated with Neem oil by a rescue. There is no need for ‘home remedy’ skin treatments any more, we have Gorgeous Guineas, always happy to advise and help and who are particularly rescue friendly!
(c) Thistle Cavies all rights reserved 2010

January 17, 2010   Posted in: Rescue